Research shows that your lifestyle could affect your risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Here are eight ways to keep your brain at its healthiest:
1. Drink alcohol
In moderation, that is. A US study of older women found that those who reported drinking (typically one to two drinks a day) had a 40% lower risk of cognitive decline that those who claimed to drink nothing.
2. Eat apples
Fresh apples have high concentrations of quercetin, an antioxidant that, lab studies suggest, may fight the damage done by free radicals to brain cells.
3. And broccoli
A study of men aged 50-85 in Boston found that those with more folate in their blood showed less decline in verbal fluency. Folate turns up in leafy green vegetables such as spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and kale.
4. And oily fish
Experiments on mice bred to develop Alzheimer’s show that feeding them DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in mackerel, halibut, salmon and sardines (and also almonds, walnuts and soya) reduced by 70% the build-up of blood plaques that are a hallmark of the disease.
5. Eat less
It’s generally considered that obese people are at greater risk. And another mouse study found
that animals who have their food restricted by 40%, compared with mice who can eat all they want, again have a reduced level of blood plaque.
It doesn’t take much: a Hawaiian study found that elderly men who walked two or more miles a day halved their risk of dementia compared with men who walked less than a quarter of a mile.
7. Look after your ticker
High LDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes are all known to be risk factors for heart disease, but a study of 9,000 Californians found that they also raised the risk of dementia-by 46% for diabetes, 42% for high cholesterol, 26% for smoking and 24% for hypertension. These are cumulative; if you’ve got all four then your risk is boosted by 237%.
8. Get religious
A small Canadian study found that people with higher levels of spiritual or religious belief and practice had a slower progression of cognitive decline.
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